Coldest street in UK sees elderly ‘suffer in silence’

Energy bills: Expert advises to 'close curtains' when heating is on

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Northern England and Scotland are set to see 25 to 30 days of further disruption due to ice and snow with 20 to 25 days in the South, according to The Weather Company. Leon Brown, head of meteorological operations at the weather service said: “More snow and ice than average are expected because of the cold Arctic patter setting up so early in December.

“Cold polar air is covering the entire country already, and the South is far more at risk of snow as it will be the battleground for moist milder air returning, which can see snow.

“Temperatures of -11C or -12C are a good bet for coming nights in the South, with -14C or -15C in Scotland where there is snow on the ground.”

While the colder weather raises hope of many for a white Christmas and has seen many children enjoying playing in the snow, for others concerns rise for how they will stay warm this winter amid rising energy bills and poor insulation.

The Sun reported on Oakworth Road and West Lane in Keighley, West Yorkshire which has been declared as the coldest street in the UK.

The name came after data from Friends of the Earth revealed that the street has the highest number of homes with poor energy performance.

Joanne Armstrong’s house is so cold it was ridden with mould which had a severe impact on her household’s health, a common theme in homes in the area which become damp and inhospitable.

Ms Armstrong told The Sun: “It’s so cold on a morning I can see my breath. It’s freezing and you can’t keep warm.

“I whack the heating on full blast, and it doesn’t make a difference. We have to sit in fluffy pyjamas and hoodies.

Thirteen percent of homes have an Energy Performance Certificate of F and G which rules the heating as inefficient while the average rating in England and Wales is D.

The 48-year-old said: “We had mould in every room. It was all over the walls, wardrobes, and beds. You couldn’t escape it.

“I had to re-decorate because of it, which cost me a few hundred pounds.

“My son and I had asthma, so it had a detrimental impact on our health. I couldn’t have anyone over because of the smell, I became really conscious of my home and isolated myself.”

Dr Agostinho Sousa, a consultant in public health medicine as UKHSA said: “Cold weather can have serious consequences for health, and older people and those with heart of lung condition can be particularly at risk.”

Residents in the area have even said that they have been unable to buy expensive Christmas gifts and clothes due to the conditions in the house which would ruin them.

Ms Armstrong declared that “no one should have to live in those conditions” after mould ruined a number of expensive items of clothing.

She added: “It spoiled Christmas because we didn’t want to buy presents, or anything for that matter.

“I had some collectors’ items and expensive shoes that were completely covered in mould within a couple of months.

“We were worried about electronics being plugged in, including Christmas decorations, because it was dangerous as the walls were damp.”

Joanne finally got loft insulation installed along with an air conditioning fan but noted that the house is still “freezing cold but it’s nowhere near as bad as it was before”.

Despite the insulation, with rising energy prices amid the cost-of-living crisis and the invasion of Ukraine, is seeing these households struggling to keep their homes warm for a sustained period of time.

Joanne noted: “The energy prices have soared, and we can barely afford to keep the heating on. We’re going to have to make do over the winter as otherwise we’ll freeze to but I’m already in £2,000 debt with the energy company.”

The doctor noted that those with medical conditions should heat their homes “to a temperature that is comfortable for you.

“In rooms you mostly use such as the living room or bedroom, try to heat them to at least 18C if you can.”

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Unfortunately, for many households in the area in West Yorkshire and up and down the nation are physically unable to heat their homes to this level and struggle to afford it.

Other residents in the area have also raised their concerns about how they will afford to heat the homes.

Mark Curtis, 62, is a semi-retired builder who has lived in Keighley all of his life and said that “many of the homes were built in the 1930s or even 1850s [and] to fit insulation would cost a good few grand and it isn’t as simple as the Government giving local authorities a grant to do that, it’s more complex.

“Having insulation would help people to fend off the cold but if you can’t afford it or you aren’t eligible it’s harder to keep these houses warm.

“If you’re an elderly person living around here and can’t afford to pay for central heating you would find it hard. I can imagine a lot of them will stay in bed and put a coat on – and suffer in silence.”

Allan Lobley, 63, a retired banker, said: “We have central heating so it isn’t that bad for us, but we have had to increase our direct debit to cover the costs.

“I think we’ll only know how much it’s costing us in a few months’ time when we get a final bill.”

Another resident said: “My bills are around £400 per month just to heat my home. If we didn’t have central heating, we would all be wrapped in blankets and jumpers.”

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